BLACKPOOL Tower, which was built by a Worcester engineering company more than 120 years ago, has received a top heritage award.

The landmark structure was constructed in 1894 by the firm then known as Heenan and Froude. It moved to Worcester in 1903 and for three quarters of a century was a stalwart of the city engineering scene and one of the area’s main employers.

Today the business operates under the title Froude Hofmann and the Blackpool Tower Project has been awarded the first North West Civil Engineering Award by the Institute of Civil Engineers.

Froude Hofmann’s manufacturing director John Ryder said: “We have a great legacy which we are now passing on to the next generation. I am proud that we have nine apprentices and have been awarded employer of the year by the Worcestershire Group Training Association.”

The Grade I listed Blackpool Tower opened on May 18, 1894 and was described by ICE judges as “the most recognisable work of civil engineering in the country, but which is all about having fun.”

North West regional director of ICE Darrell Matthews said Blackpool Tower was a “really interesting nomination” because civil engineering was usually associated with highly practical things such as railways and bridges. It was built as England’s rival to Paris’s Eiffel Tower and on a clear day can be seen from north Wales and the Lake District.

Heenan & Froude was founded in 1881 and under the name Froude Hofmann now builds and supplies test equipment to the automotive industry and employs 130 people. Other contenders for the heritage award were Thomas Telford’s Nantwich Aqueduct in Cheshire, John Rennie’s Old Tram Bridge in Preston and the 200-year-old Wigan Flight of 23 locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.